When, in my previous post I chronicled the ways in which Gov. Phil Scott has demonstrably been Not a Nice Guy, I omitted at least one: How passive-aggressive, how positively pissy he gets when answering his critics. That trait was on full display at this week’s Covid-19 press briefing. (Available on YouTube, in case that 10-hour Norwegian train video is too much for your blood pressure.)
Otherwise, the briefing was another dismal affair. The statistics don’t look good, and Scott had to acknowledge that they’re about to get worse because of the Thanksgiving holiday. For a week or two, he said. Which, he did not add, gets us to the year-end holidays, office parties and family gatherings, which means we can’t realistically expect any improvement in the numbers until at least mid-January.
In other happy tidings, Scott was asked how many Vermonters were still vulnerable to infection because they were unvaccinated or hadn’t gained a measure of immunity through contracting Covid. He admitted to asking the same question himself. “I kept wondering how much wood is left to fuel this fire,” he said, “and the answer was higher than I expected.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine filled in the specifics: About 50,000 unvaccinated adults, about half of the 44,000 kids between ages 5-11, plus children under age 5 who can’t be vaccinated yet. “There still is, as the governor kind of alluded to, plenty of fresh, uninfected people who have never been vaccinated that this virus can still find. And it is very adept at finding them,” Levine said.
Hm. Whatever you think about metaphorically comparing vulnerable Vermonters to firewood or fresh meat, that’s an admission that Scott’s vaccinate-first, vaccinate-always strategery was kind of doomed from the beginning. We are, to his credit, at the top of the national rankings in vaccinations… and yet, here we are with plenty of “wood” to burn and a growing pile of case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
Wood, pile? See what I di… never mind. Back to Pissy Phil.
He began by announcing the signing of S.1, the bill passed Monday in the Legislature’s special one-day session. And he couldn’t stop himself from casting aspersions on lawmakers. The bill is “a compromise between our extreme differences of opinion regarding Covid strategy,” he said, revealing his misunderstanding of the word “compromise,” which involves two sides working together to reach agreement. Take-it-or-leave-it is not compromise.
Scott went on. “Legislative leaders believe we need to return to a state of emergency and impose a statewide mask mandate and a host of other restrictions. I don’t.”
Scott painted a dark picture of those innumerable “other restrictions.” He cited a Reuters article entitled “No More Covid Lockdowns in US, White House Says.” Scott quoted White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zientz as saying “We can curb the spread of the virus without having to, in any way, shut down our economy.” Scott concluded that “It appears to me that the White House has the same approach that we do.”
There he is, punching straw men again. Legislative leaders are calling for a statewide mask mandate. I have yet to hear any lawmaker call for a lockdown of any sort.
Miracle of miracles, Calvin Cutler of WCAX-TV called him on it, pointing out that nobody has endorsed a lockdown. “You ask them, what do they mean?” Scott replied. He pointed to a resolution passed Monday by the state Senate calling for more Covid-fighting efforts. “They wanted a state of emergency. They wanted a mask mandate and all other measures to curb Covid. What did they mean by ‘all measures’? Maybe you’ll ask them.”
And there’s his fig leaf. The resolution said “all measures,” therefore it’s an endorsement of every possible Draconian policy you can imagine.
That’s false, and he knows it. But it’s a convenient straw man.
And it gets worse. When asked about the possibility that the Legislature could pass bills calling for tougher Covid policies, he chalked it all up to political posturing. In a campaign year with some big opportunities to be had, he predicted an outbreak of “political posturing” among lawmakers, which he said “could hurt our ability to do the things we need to do… I think we need to put politics aside put the campaign aside regardless of what position you’re vying for, and try and just do what’s right.” Campaigning, he concluded, should wait until after adjournment.
Well, excuuuuuuuuuuse me!
So anybody who disagrees with the governor is doing it out of pure ambition, nothing more?
Christ on a cracker. This is the Nice Guy??
I mean, the Legislature comes back to town and passes the one and only bill he would accept without any funny business, and this is their reward? To be depicted as nothing more than political opportunists?
Is no one besides Phil Scott capable of his level of purity? Are they all fatally tainted by — gasp — politics?
That’s rich, coming from a guy who’s been a politician for over 20 years.
One more thing. Scott also threw shade on the many public health experts who are calling for tougher, data-driven Covid policies. “Look at our experts, our team,” he said. “We’ve led Vermont well.”
Really? He could claim to have “led Vermont well” through the first 15 months of the pandemic, but not since then. He and his “experts’ have consistently underestimated the threat of the Delta variant.
And I wonder if those “experts” on Scott’s payroll include the 92 Health Department employees who called for tougher measures back in August. Somehow I suspect that his “experts” are mainly from his inner circle. That would certainly explain his stubborn insistence on keeping the economy going.
You know, it’s a shame that some political leaders have views that don’t align with the governor’s. It’s a shame that the statistics don’t support his policies. It’s too bad that some reporters actually question what he’s doing about Delta.
Poor, poor Phil. So misunderstood.